Generosity in times of Adversity
The world we live in is witnessing a new form of global crisis, with more than 65 million people displaced from their homes, half of which are children. Around 21.3 million people have been forcefully transformed into refugees and 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day. We are all aware of the crisis in Syria where 12 million people have been uprooted by violence since 2011 – including 4.9 million registered refugees, 6.6 million people displaced internally and nearly 250,000 deemed as asylum-seekers.
The extreme crisis is consequential of the constant conflict created by humans, one with each other and the other with nature. The repercussions of this have been faced by many people across the globe in form of war, conflicts, natural disasters and unexpected catastrophes. Majority of people across the world are in a state of chaos, yet they continue to live in a constant hope of seeking a safe haven for their future generation.
So, does crisis make people unforgiving, malevolent and inconsiderate? Let me rephrase it in the above context – Are the most Conflict Suffering States, the most Malevolent States of the world? Hold on to your answer and I suggest you read the following write up and then arrive to a conclusion.
We assess the above fact with an interesting tool i.e. The CAF World Giving Index (WGI) 2016, released in October 2016 maps the nature of giving across the world. A democratic tool, part of an ongoing research conducted in more than 140 countries, comprising of 5.1 billion people – representing 96% of world population. Interestingly, it measures Global Generosity on 3 indicators – Giving Money, Time and Helping a Stranger. It is the indicator of “Helping a Stranger” that intrigued me the most, especially when I observed that conflict ridden countries (Iraq, Libya) are placed as Top 100 generous countries and as Top 10 countries that extend help to strangers.
We have formed a fixed perception of these countries and its people from the daily news and reports, and have restricted their identity with everyday violence, terrorism, annihilation, and displacement of people. The indicator of WGI on helping a stranger and the advocated phrase generosity at time of adversity bears deep connotation. As it attempts to break this one sided perception but also brings with it a positive essence and reflection on the social order and integration of a society that struggles to survive every day. This blog is an attempt to highlight the principles of humanity and solidarity entailed by millions of people who are stateless, asylum seekers, refugees, especially children and women are victims of everyday conflict and yet aspire to live with dignity and lead a life with humane ethics. Their act of generosity is a lesson to the world, especially to the developed nations of the world (only 5 of G20 nations figure in top 20 WGI), that their continuous struggle of survival is realised every day by a sheer will of leading lives governed with values of mutual coexistence, cooperation and support.
Most Generous Country of the World – Myanmar
Let us begin with our South East Asian neighbour Myanmar, which has suffered decades of political conflict and repression. Many people there have been internally displaced as victims of inter community led violence, that has forced massive displacement of some 145,000 people. Amidst the news of armed conflicts, internal state of crisis, you would be surprised to know that Myanmar is the most generous country in the world! Although, CAF WGI measures the charitable activities of the general population within a country, it also extends the analysis of social, cultural and religious behaviour of people that are instrumental in driving people towards giving in all forms and modes.
Most Helpful Countries in the World – Iraq, Libya and Syria
In situations of extreme turmoil and state crisis where around 1.2 – 1.5 million people are impacted and up to 1 million displaced and 700,000 in need. It is obvious for us to assume that such societies are deemed to be self- centred, hostile and defiant. However, when countries such as Iraq and Libya emerge as leaders in the world in being generous, it completely shakes up our derived commonsensical notions on the social fabric of these societies.
Iraq continues to lead WGI with an impressive score of 81% for the second consecutive year, in terms of helping strangers. Libya is placed second, despite being engulfed in a ghastly civil war and massive bloodshed. Most significantly, Syria which is a conflict zone, occupies a formidable rank of 30 in terms of helping people. It is indeed compelling to see that adverse circumstances have not discouraged people to be apathetic but on the contrary to be more responsive towards each other in times of extreme need.
Among continents, Africa leads the generosity index, this is despite the continuous bloodshed that has driven more than 470,000 refugees out of the country. The above facts clearly support an intriguing social analysis that times of adversities and unrest also enhances the social solidarity of a society. People are more receptive to mutual cooperation, aid and support each other in times of crises.
Nexus of Increased Responsiveness and Natural Disasters – India and Nepal
The giving index also showcases the linkages between natural disasters and people’s active participation. India has achieved a rise in position to 91st from 106th in 2016, the analysis showcased that Indians were highly responsive at times of natural disasters and catastrophes during the J&K Floods, Earthquake, Assam floods etc., more so that help and support was extended to other counties such as Nepal during the earthquake crisis. As a result, India fared as the most generous country in terms of numbers by addressing all the three indicators in terms of donating money, time, and helping strangers. The number of people who have helped a stranger is viewed with a notable increase of 60.9 million people. A similar trend has been observed in countries such as Nepal affected by disasters and witnessed a rise in ranks, both in terms of helping a stranger and volunteering time that evokes participation of people.
The WGI outlined a significant feature that even at times of crisis more than half of the people globally helped a stranger. This also reflects the nature of an emerging Global Citizen Movement which is marked with a vital indicator – global generosity. The movement is one of the active participation of the middle class in the transitional economies increasing their philanthropic activities. It also establishes a social fact that high end turmoil and extreme necessities in turn re – strengthen the internal social structure of societies. The victims of conflict through their strong ethos redistill that crisis can also bring social cohesiveness among people wherein they are ready to cooperate and support fellow citizens in perilous conditions.
Charities Aid Foundation. The World Giving Index 2016.
TOI. “World Giving Index: Countries with a helping hand”, 25th October, 2016.
The International Crisis Group. “What’s Driving the Global Refugee Crisis?”, 15th September, 2016
The Guardian. “Why won’t the world tackle refugee crisis?”, 17th September, 2016
United Nations Human Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)